The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 20, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that U.N. General Assembly president Carlos Romulo proposed a temporary armistice in the production and use of atomic weapons, to provide more time for working out a permanent atomic control plan. He had made a similar proposal, though less definite, on November 3.

Heavy fighting was reported to be taking place south of Chengtu in China, as Nationalist troops reportedly repulsed Chinese Communist troops. In southern China at Kwangchowan, near Hainan Island, a British missionary reported lawlessness to the extent that the people hoped for the arrival of the Communists to restore order.

The Government produced a new witness in the perjury case against alleged influence peddler John Maragon, who had operated with the help of Presidential aide General Harry Vaughan. A Federal Grand Jury heard the testimony of a witness who had not testified in the Senate hearings on the "five-percenter" investigation. The testimony remained secret. Among the witnesses testifying before the Grand Jury were columnist Drew Pearson, who had also testified before the Senate subcommittee, and counsel for the subcommittee, William P. Rogers, future Attorney General and Secretary of State. Mr. Maragon was facing indictment for alleged perjury for denying that he had ever taken money to exert influence in procurement of Government contracts.

In New York, in the retrial of Alger Hiss for perjury, Mr. Hiss testified in his own behalf this date, defending America's right during the early days of the war to aid Western Allies without violation of the Neutrality Act. He had prepared a memorandum to that effect in late September, 1939, placed in evidence by the defense over Government objection for it being after the claimed espionage activity of Mr. Hiss as alleged by Whittaker Chambers. Mr. Hiss denied ever handling the typewritten documents Mr. Chambers alleged to have received from him, transcriptions of State Department documents allegedly typed out by Mrs. Hiss for Mr. Chambers for transfer to the Soviets. Mr. Hiss said that neither he nor his wife had typed the documents and that he did not know from whence they came. He admitted that four of the documents were in his own handwriting but he denied ever giving them to Mr. Chambers or any other unauthorized person. He also denied giving any of the microfilmed documents ultimately found contained inside a pumpkin on Mr. Chambers's animal farm in Maryland a year earlier, after Mr. Chambers had led HUAC investigator Robert Stripling to them.

The Soviet Government claimed in Federal court diplomatic immunity for Valentin Gubitchev, the co-defendant of Judy Coplon, both accused of espionage. Another Federal court had already previously ruled that he did not enjoy such immunity. The second trial of Ms. Coplon, after the first had wound up in her conviction for taking documents from her job at the Justice Department, and the first trial of both defendants together for the attempted transfer of the documents for the purpose of spying, was scheduled to begin December 27.

Herbert John Burgman, former American Embassy clerk in Berlin, was sentenced in Washington to six to twenty years in prison after he had been convicted of treason for his wartime broadcasts for the Nazis, using the pseudonym "Joe Scanlon". Mr. Burgman claimed that the Nazis had coerced him to make the broadcasts. He had been subject to the death penalty for the conviction and was the eighth American convicted of acts of treason during the war.

The President returned to Washington after his three-week vacation in Key West. A large crowd greeted him at National Airport. Aides said that the President would urge to the new session of Congress that it pass all of the legislation which he had proposed the previous January but had not yet been passed. He would fly to Independence, Mo., for Christmas on Friday and return on December 28, at which point he would finish his State of the Union address.

Republicans, meanwhile, were claiming that the Fair Deal was a "socialist" program creating a "welfare state". The battle in the new session was shaping up over the President's proposal to raise taxes, expand Social Security, provide compulsory health insurance, expand public housing, and provide a new farm program and Federal aid to education.

Coal miners were ordered to work only two days per week for the ensuing two weeks because of the holidays.

In Chattanooga, Tenn., the young physician who had made a suicide pact with his wife and taken poison along with her, died in the hospital. She had died Sunday shortly after taking the poison. They left notes saying they had financial trouble and that suicide was the only way to protect their children.

Near Bakersfield, Calif., rescue crews trudged through deep snow in the Tehachapi Mountains in search of a boy skier missing since Saturday in sub-freezing weather. He had been skiing with four other boys and skied away from them, had not been seen since. Searchers found his foot tracks near the Kelso Valley, about four miles from where he was last seen.

In New York, actor Robert Wilcox was bound and gagged by two robbers at the apartment of actress Diana Barrymore, daughter of the late John Barrymore. The robbers reportedly stole a mink coat and $50 in silver.

Tom Fesperman of The News again reports on Federal aid money being accepted by other cities to clear slums and redevelop the former slum areas into civic projects and build new low-cost housing, as well for improving streets of the cities. Norfolk was one such city which had accepted Federal money and engaged in such redevelopment with good results. He stresses again that Charlotte could not share in the 1.5 billion dollar fund because the Legislature had not approved acceptance of the aid money in the 1949 session.

In Charlotte, Elmer the Swan of Sharon Park had left his wife on Saturday and had not returned. Park employees were searching the countryside, yelling, "Where's Elmer?" Elmer, who had a radar problem in conducting his landings, had taken a new wife in September, whereupon the old husband started walking back to New York from whence he had come. The bride, expecting newborn, was now left swimming in circles on the lake.

Someone probably swanaped him and then swangled him for his adulterous activities.

Only four shopping days left until Christmas.

On the editorial page, "The School Problem" tells of City and County school officials determining that the people of Mecklenburg County would have to spend large sums, perhaps 15 to 20 million dollars, in the ensuing decade to improve and expand the schools to afford adequate facilities for the baby boom generation. The first step was to increase the County's borrowing capacity which could occur through a friendly test case to force the County to absorb $750,000 of old Charlotte school district bonds. The other means of raising the revenue was through revaluation of property, but that process would take nearly two years.

"'The Looking-Backward Year'" tells of historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.—brother of News reporter Tom Schlesinger—and columnist Marquis Childs having drafted an article for Look, titled "The Twenty Who Shaped the Twentieth Century", each of whom the piece lists, including Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Winston Churchill, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler, as well as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Madame Curie and the Wright Brothers. They were, for the most part, according to the authors, impetuous doers, not thinkers.

The piece wonders whether the pattern thus established in the first half of the century would continue through the second half.

We shall see.

"The Consumer Is the Loser" finds the announced U.S. Steel price increase of $4 per ton to be troubling, but also believes that the United Steelworkers, after demanding their welfare and pension fund, should not be so exercised about it. Perhaps, the steel industry could, as advocated by the union leaders, absorb the cost of the fund, but there was no realistic reason for them to be expected to cut into their profits by so doing. The union had taken advantage of a favorable market to get their benefits and so the company likewise took advantage of the market to maintain profits at a high level. In either case, the loser was the consumer.

"A Reminder" discusses the theme of "Peace", the Christmas cantata by composer Lamar Stringfield and novelist Marian Sims of Charlotte, which had its world premiere in Washington the prior Sunday. The piece had been well received. The theme was that while no one sneered at the concept of peace on earth and good will to men, some did perceive such notions as naive and impractical. The text by Ms. Sims urged turning away from such cynicism and hypocrisy. It was a worthy reminder that brotherhood had to be lived before peace could be realized.

A piece from the Winston-Salem Journal, titled "Won't They Ever Learn?" finds that a key member of Congress was predicting that rent control would be reimposed after being ended because many landlords would engage in rent gouging. The piece wonders why they would never learn their lesson and finds that it was such greed which threatened the extinction of free enterprise far more than did the advocates of a planned economy.

A piece from the Congressional Quarterly tells of several Congressmen and Senators returning from an inspection tour of Europe recommending that ERP aid be cut drastically, from 3.75 billion appropriated for the current fiscal year to as low as a billion dollars, as recommended by Senators John Stennis of Mississippi and John McClellan of Arkansas.

A probe of low income families had been launched by a subcommittee of the Joint Committee on the Economic Report.

The Citizens Committee for the Hoover Report was organizing a new push to implement the report's recommendations for curbing waste in the executive branch.

Drew Pearson again discusses tax evasion, which he considered one of the worst problems in the country at the time. It was difficult for the understaffed IRB to turn up tax fraud, but recently, the Treasury agents came across an airtight case against Mid-Continent Petroleum Corp. of Oklahoma, with six million dollars due in back taxes plus a 50 percent penalty. The wirepullers, however, were able to stop a criminal prosecution and even prevent half of the repayment of the bill. An accountant for the company had told the Government that the company had been expanding its operations during the war and charging those capital expenditures off as "repairs" to make them deductible rather than only depreciable. The case was stopped by a deputy commissioner of the IRB in Washington who had been close to Tammany leaders when he was with the office of the IRB in New York. Mid-Continent was headed by a Republican committeeman from Maryland.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discuss the cuts being urged in the defense budget by the President. Having already cut it down once, he now proposed a second round of cuts, which would include the Marshall Plan, his shining success. The National Security Council had been instructed by the President to examine all aspects of defense and foreign aid, both economic and military, and come up with the minimum total budget. The total which they reached was still secret, but it was known that the President had overridden the recommendation and reached a figure around 18 billion dollars, likely to be cut again.

Such economy was compromising national security. But the President was laboring under the illusion that all was well on the world stage, notwithstanding the contrary view held by all of the expert advisers.

The President was paying far more attention to domestic policy than to foreign policy. But not doing things in the latter field, they conclude, was more problematic than doing things, the cold war being in that respect very much like a hot war.

Henry C. McFadyen, superintendent of the Albemarle, N.C., schools, provides his sixteenth in the series of reports on childhood education, this time stressing the fare of comic books, movies, and radio and what limits parents ought place on access. He stresses that the urban child would have less experience at adventure than the rural child and so would be more likely to be attracted to the vicarious adventure supplied by such radio programs as "Superman" and "The Lone Ranger", as well as by movies and comic books.

Children varied in how much adventure they could stand and it was important for the parent to gauge those limits. If the child became unduly agitated after hearing or viewing adventure stories, then the parents should limit the fare as much as practicable. Otherwise, he does not view the programming as particularly harmful. But he did not want his own children going to bed after hearing the "screams and gurgles" of a woman having her throat cut. Neither did he wish them to view the world in as "cranksided" a manner as that portrayed in the soap operas.

He could bar vicious comics from his home but could not regulate what his children read on the sly or viewed at the movies, as he could not possibly attend every movie they saw. So he sought to educate his children as to good fare versus bad. To that end, setting a good example in adult listening and viewing habits was important. His children liked Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, football and big musicals, just as did their parents. They even liked Lowell Thomas.

So, he concludes, it was important to let the children know that there was good entertainment and bad entertainment and to teach them the difference.

A letter writer comments on the column by Bruce Barton on the front page of December 10 in which he had told of conducting the last interview with Thomas Edison in which the inventor was practically deaf and in consequence wrote things out in response to written questions. The writer says that he had worked for several weeks with Mr. Edison during his latter years and while he was quite deaf, he could always speak clearly and never wrote things out. He wonders therefore whether he or Mr. Barton was mistaken on the subject.

A letter writer corrects misinformation appearing in the newspaper on December 12, that Jupiter had nine moons. She says that it had eleven. She had studied Jupiter in her sixth grade class and written a paper on it for Miss Agnew.

Well, old Jupe added two after December 12 when two of the nine broke in two to form silvery new moons.

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